Trans Woman's Viral Salvation Army Shelter Tweets Spark National Debate on Treatment of Homeless People

Trans Woman's Viral Salvation Army Shelter Tweets Spark National Debate on Treatment of Homeless People

Thousands rallied behind Heather Snow until action was taken.

Published May 9, 2017

  1. This is Heather Snow, a transgender woman who has been living in a Salvation Army homeless shelter in Portland, Oregon, for the past 4 months

    Snow told Buzzfeed News that she has been homeless for about five years. During this time, she has struggled with depression, anxiety and a severe back injury, which impedes her ability to work. 

    After getting fed up with the conditions at the Salvation Army Female Emergency Shelter in Portland, Snow took to Twitter. She penned a lengthy thread where she voiced her frustration with how the shelter treated women, specifically trans women. 

    According to Snow, the small group of trans women that occupy the shelter are bullied by other women as well as the staff. 

  2. Snow started her thread by asking that no one donate to the Salvation Army
  3. She then detailed personal negative experiences she has had with the organization and its shelter
  4. Snow also shared a photo of a moldy ceiling in the bathroom where the women shower
  5. Snow's tweets then went viral and sparked a conversation among thousands surrounding the treatment of homeless people
  6. Enough people commented and tagged Salvation Army to prompt the agency to respond and set up a conversation with Snow
  7. Snow confirmed she met with a representative who listened to all of her concerns

    "It was the first time someone's ever listened to me," Snow told BuzzFeed News.

    Although Snow is happy about her meeting, she is unsure of what legitimate changes will be made to the shelters. The shelter's program director, Chelsea Bender, explained some of the issues they've faced. 

    "We're trying to serve the most vulnerable populations and it can be risky territory," Bender said. "We have a handful of staff who can be short and rigid and there was a history of escalation but we're changing that."

    However, Bender did admit to Snow that "things needed to change ASAP.”

Written by Rachel Herron

(Photo: Elinor Jones/REX/Shutterstock)


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